There are two things to know about the 2018 version of Taylor Swift:
2. She is Taken & Smitten, with capital T's & S's. Her and her man, up-and-coming actor Joe Alwyn, have been going steady for a few months now, and the two are taking their relationship to the next level in the most Taylor Swift way possible: allowing paparazzi to photograph them out together.
When you're Swift, you don't just let things happen to you — you orchestrate them to happen in particular ways at particular times. It's one of the pros of being a professional celebrity. She is a master of controlling her image, and by letting these snaps see the light of day, it means she is ready to actually share her relationship with the world. And for Swift, that matters.
In the news series of photos taken by paparazzi this week, she is seen on an intimate hike with Alwyn. Intimate, except for the fact that Swift clearly notices the cameras and doesn't appear to do much to shoo them away. While there are such things as mega-zoom lenses used by paps (yes, mega-zoom is definitely the technical term for them), in one of the new photos, you see the 28-year-old singer staring directly at the camera, and she doesn't look mad. She looks content. She's kinda even smiling. She knows these photos will be sold for big bucks to the highest payer, in this case it was E! News as seen from the "Exclusive" sticker pasted next to the headline on their site.
So, why does this matter? Oh my god — I'm so glad you asked! See, Swift is a master of avoiding unwanted interaction. And by master I mean, she literally will walk backwards and sideways to avoid giving paparazzi a shot of her face, her outfit, or a minute of her time. She mirrors that same intensity in keeping her relationships on the down low until she is totally ready for that kind of exposure. She also uses them as a way control her narrative.
For the past few months, photos of Alwyn and Swift have been few and far between, and incredibly strategic. First, they were dodging photographers by covering their faces with hoodies. This was to confirm that they were together without her or him having to comment on any of the rumors circulating online. Later, the two were spotted in December 2017 at an Ed Sheeran concert, enjoying themselves in the crowd, which confirmed that they were still smitten (although her reputation lyrics made that pretty clear) and it also doubled as a little plug for her best mate, Sheeran. On her own, Swift was making headlines as a voice for being a "Silent Breaker" and a beacon of feminist light in the entertainment industry, as heralded on the cover of TIME. Being a cute girlfriend didn't fit into that powerful moment. She wanted to be seen as independent and strong, not gushy and cute.
When Swift was dating Hiddleston, she was equally private until photos were leaked and shared from her Fourth of July party. They broke the internet. And likely, they broke her. She lost control, and her boyfriend became a meme. With Calvin Harris, she let it all hang loose on Instagram: them kissing at events, them on vacation together. And we all know that ended badly.
So, she's learning and growing and avoiding paparazzi until the moment's right. And you know what happens to be conveniently coming up? A new music video for the love song "Delicate" is coming out (in which he could be featured). She is going on a huge tour. Alwyn has four movies set to release in the next year. That means red carpets, interviews, and lots and lots of photographs (.... maybe even an Instagram confirmation?). It's about to be go-time for this blonde, blue-eyed couple.
And she's ready.